Giving It Up

At face value, “giving it up” sounds a lot like defeat, doesn’t it? However, if “it” is our resistance to the flow of life, “giving it up” is anything but defeat. Rather, we’re surrendering our feeble attempts at controlling life to satisfy our ego, and allowing the cooperative forces of the universe to support us in carrying out our life purpose and mission. We’re giving up our ego-based fear of being swallowed up by the unknown if we stop attempting to control life—even if there’s ultimately precious little within our control.

All this sounds abstract to you? Let me try to make it concrete by sharing how I’m giving it up.

Vision Becoming Tenacious Attachment


A little more than 3 years ago, I left my last corporate job to go into self-employment. I had a vision for carrying out my soul mission to help others rediscover who they are and live the life of their dreams. It’s a vision to which I became tenaciously attached.

In many ways, I’ve done what I set out to do. As a case in point, you’re reading this blog, which I’ve fed with love for more than a year and a half, never missing a single week no matter where in the world I was or what was going on in my life. Perhaps you’re one of my cherished connections on Twitter. Perhaps you got here from doing a Google search for help in figuring out what you want and how to replace misery or numbness in your life with joy and purpose. Nearly two years ago, I published my first personal empowerment book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to being a Conscious Creator in Your Life, which required overcoming years of paralyzing objections from my inner critic. Participants from my “30 Days To Living Your Best Life” program reported that they really got to know themselves at a much deeper level than ever before, and felt energized and empowered with tools to live their best life.

Reassessing Vision

While I’m still passionately committed to facilitating personal empowerment that feeds my soul and honors my heart, my vision underwent a needed honest reassessment. As a result, I’ve recently decided that it’s time to re-enter the corporate world. This decision didn’t come lightly, and involved an extended period of listening intently to my soul for guidance. It ultimately directed me to surrender my stubborn attachment to how I’m supposed to make a difference. It’s time to stop trying to paddle upstream and to flow with the current of life.

empty baby bathtubWhen I left my last employer at the end of 2009, I basically threw the baby out with the bath water. Having a second lease on life after nearly dying, I was sure I needed to overhaul Life 1.0 in which I was miserable. I was done marking time in that life. What I couldn’t see at the time was that I didn’t just turn my back on the parts that caused me a great deal of grief, I also walked away from a tremendous amount of good I was doing. That particular job needed to go, but being employed in and of itself wasn’t the problem. However, I was too busy clinging onto my idea of what Life 2.0 ought to look like to see the entire picture, a large part of which was dismissed by my judgment of what was good and what was right for me to do. And that tunnel vision lasted until recently.

Welcome Back, Baby!

When I was finally ready to surrender my ego attachment to what Life 2.0 must look like, I could recognize the baby I threw out with the bath water. That is, I can serve a lot of people directly and indirectly in the corporate world. By finding the right corporate home, I have the opportunity to truly leverage my experience, along with both my left-brain analytical, action-oriented power and right-brain creativity and passion to serve both colleagues and customers—and to do my part in bringing love to and raising consciousness in the workplace. I’m ready to reengage the business (not just personal) leader in me and to integrate that with my deep passion for helping others live purposefully and act intentionally.

So, this is my in-process case of giving it up—“it” being my stubborn resistance to welcoming back the baby (corporate employment) I discarded and having it join forces with the personal empowerment baby I’ve birthed and nurtured in the last two years. In deciding to give it up, I can see through a clearer, more expansive point of view, and feel a surge of renewed excitement and purpose.

What’s In This For YOU?

zen stonesIn sharing this highly personal account, it is my hope that some part of it inspires you in some way to honor whatever “it” is you may feel called to surrender—such that you can perhaps see a previously obscured view of (what’s possible for) your life. And, it’s also my heart-felt wish for you that you allow this vision to pull you toward fulfilling more deeply and authentically what you were born to do in this life, even if it may not seem “right” at a first glance—or even second or third.

As a final note to close this piece, I’ve learned that we really can make it up and figure it out as we go along. There’s no shame in needing to course-correct as our path unfolds. As much as we’d like life to be a predictable straight shot from Point A to B, it really is much more of a meandering labyrinth.  We can’t ever truly get it wrong; only our ego-based judgments tell us so.

With all that said, let’s not be afraid to experiment and try different things that call to us. After all, ideas, inspiration and hunches come to us for a reason—especially the ones that won’t leave us alone. Most of all, let’s definitely not be afraid to give it up!

Over to you: What’s your experience/opinion on surrendering and giving it up? Would love for you to share your story/insights!


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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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What a lot of courage you demonstrate in realizing and in sharing this Alice! It all resonates with me (the inner critic most of all!).Ironically it seems that giving up is the way to make things happen, though not if that is the motive. I am familiar with this too.

Will we still see you in the Blogosphere? Will you continue with the blog? I hope so!

By the way, did you see the post I did on the book called The Untethered Soul? Have you read it? We're starting a book discussion on it - I'd love to have you join it! It'll be on Google+ - email me for details if you want to know more!

All the best in your reentry! I'm sure it will be a great new adventure for you!



Alice, Congratulations on your next step forward! Although we don't know how our lives will unfold, continuing to develop our skills will take us places where it does all come together. It is not "giving up" as such but continuing to develop and work in new and bigger communities. Looking forward to reading about your paths forward and all the positive impact you will have wherever your path continues to unfold. Jon


Alice ~  First of all, congratulations!  New chapter, new experiences and new things learn. Since I stepped away from my last corporate position I've had moments where I've thought about the choice I made to walk away and walk towards my own vision.  I've wondered if going back to corporate someday would be giving up.  Thank you for reframing what it means to give up.  When we give up, we open to new opportunities.  So funny how I've linked giving up only with failure, but it's also intentional new beginnings that really has little to do with failing, but with contributing in different ways.  Appreciate you and this post!  

Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas

Hi Alice,

This was a wonderful post because you came to a true realisation of what you experienced when it comes to the ego. I think with self-development, one also has the opportunity to explore spiritual concepts with regards to the ego. It's interesting because as coaches and writers we want to help make a difference in the lives of others. We also want to live better lives ourselves and be free to do what you want. However, as you pointed out, it is also our very egos, which can create further attachment to our ideal lives. As you explained, even this needs to be reflected upon, because we may still really want another change in direction that would be better for us. However, unless we are willing to let go of our current attachments to the ideal, it would be difficult to see this.

I wish you the very best with this next stage of your life, and look forward to following you along!

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